STARKVILLE, Miss. – Six former Mississippi State football players will be vying for Super Bowl rings in the National Football League playoffs, which begin Saturday. Nineteen Bulldogs have won 20 Super Bowl rings all-time, including six coached by MSU head coach Dan Mullen.
Houston rookie linebacker Benardrick McKinney (2011-14) will kick things off Saturday at 3:35 p.m. CT on ESPN as the Texans host the Kansas City Chiefs. McKinney made 63 tackles in 14 games (11 starts) this fall, helping lead Houston to the AFC South title.
Sunday features an NFL doubleheader with a Bulldog playing in both games. Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright (2007-10) begins his quest for his third straight Super Bowl appearance at 12:05 p.m. CT as the Seahawks travel to the Minnesota Vikings in a game which will be televised live on NBC. In 16 games played (12 starts), Wright led Seattle to the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL (17.3 ppg) thanks to a career-high 116 tackles and four forced fumbles.
Washington linebacker Preston Smith (2011-14) makes his NFL postseason debut the same day at 3:40 p.m. CT on Fox as the Redskins host the Green Bay Packers. Smith led all NFL rookies with eight sacks and was a key reason why his squad won the NFC East for the first time since 2012. A member of Mel Kiper’s 2015 all-rookie team, Smith played in all 16 games in the regular season (2 starts), totaling 35 tackles and three forced fumbles.
As a defensive tackle on the 15-1 Carolina Panthers, NFC South champion Kyle Love will play against lowest-winning seed from the NFC Wild Card round on Sunday, Jan. 17. The 12:05 p.m. CT game on Fox will take place at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, home of MSU’s 51-28 Belk Bowl victory Dec. 30 against NC State. Love played nine games (1 start) for the Panthers this fall, tallying seven tackles and one sack.
Other Bulldogs vying for Super Bowl rings include Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Josh Boyd (injured reserve) and Denver Broncos center Dillon Day (practice squad).
In related NFL news Friday afternoon, former MSU All-American defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was named Second-Team All-Pro for the second straight season. The Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowler led the team with 16.5 tackles for loss and set a new career high with 9.5 sacks.
For more information on the six Bulldogs’ road to the Super Bowl, follow “HailStateFB” on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also find all-access coverage of the Bulldogs on SnapChat by searching for “HailStateSnap.”